A day after the Union Home Minister held informal talks with some farmer outfits, an apprehension is gaining ground among protesting farmers that government is trying to create divisions among the stir’s leadership which has so far displayed unprecedented unity.
However, experts who have tracked farmer agitations over the years feel that the government will not succeed in any such attempt even if it tries. They added that farmers leaders are “well aware of the divisive policies of the government and they are treading carefully in this historic protest”.
In the past two weeks, the Union government had invited leaders of farm unions for informal talks on more than one occasion. On November 26, the government only invited BKU (Ugrahan), which is the largest farm union of Punjab, but the Ugrahan group president Joginder Singh Ugrahan refused to attend the meet without the leaders of 30 organisations. Then on Tuesday (December 8) ahead of the sixth round of talks on December 9, which could not take place Wednesday, the government invited leaders of farm unions except BKU (Ugrahan) to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Out of 30 farmers’ organisations, which have different ideologies and leanings, around 23 are apolitical in nature and remaining 8 have affiliations towards Left parties, SAD and Congress. But all unions have kept the farming issues at the forefront and put their ideological differences aside.
“Although we were not invited for that informal talk but still those who attended that meet they are part of a united front and all are with us. They had given the befitting reply to the Union government that their demand is not to make amendment in these laws but to cancel these and give Minimum Support Price (MSP) to the farmers,” said BKU (Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, adding that government should invite the representatives of all the unions even for informal talks but government is trying to play ‘pick and choose’ for reasons best known to it.
“All unions have their own ideologies and that is why they are separate unions, but they are united on this issue of three agri laws and MSP without any ego clash because it is the matter of life and death for the entire farming community,” he said, adding that earlier also they fought joint as well as separate fights on the farmers’ issues.
The BKU leader said that this is “one of its kind agitation and government must not live under any illusion”.
“Farmers have been protesting hard against the three agri laws and they are aware that their united fight has brought huge success to this protest from the people of not only farming community but from all walks of life and they will not be affected by any tactics of dividing them,” said Professor Surinder Singh
Jodhka, who is Professor of Sociology at JNU, Delhi, and has worked in the field of agrarian change in Punjab and Haryana states.
He said that all the farmer leaders are experienced, seasoned and educated and very well understand their goals and will not bring any ideological and ego-related issues in this one of the biggest fights.
One of the professor in the Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, said that by inviting Ugrahan group first and then leaving the same in the next meet, government seems to aware about what it is doing.
“In Punjab, Ugrahan group is seen quite dedicated at grassroots level with large base and that was why government is doing so and it is the time all farmers unions focus on to staying united come what may,” said Prof Kesar Singh Bhangu, a farm issues expert and professor of Economics at Punjabi University, Patiala.
“Government was expecting that by doing so it (Ugrahan) may take any drastic step to sabotage the ongoing movement but government is not aware that the demand of all the unions is one and that is to repeal the agri laws and make MSP legal right of the farmers and what is not be acceptable to Ugrahan that will also be not acceptable to other unions,” he added.
“Now farmer unions cannot afford to bring any ego clash among themselves because after reaching at this point of their historic battle small issues do not matter to make big changes in the history,” said another expert, adding that currently there are 500 farm unions under
All India Kisan Sangahrsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) and all have their ideologies but all are united now.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines